Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Flight into Egypt

Have you ever undertaken a journey without knowing exactly where you were headed, or how the trip would go?  It doesn't sound very realistic, does it? "Let's take a vacation, honey." "Cool.  Where to?"  "Oh, I don't know. Let's just go."

In Genesis, Abram, Sarai and their immediate family were asked to do exactly that. They're with their friends, cousins upon cousins,  when God shows up to say, Go.

In Exodus Moses and the Israelites are called to do pretty much the same, and the Israelites are a lot less happy about it.  "Were there no burial places in Egypt that you had to bring us out here to die in the desert?" they ask, even before they've crossed the Red Sea.  (Ex 14:11)

And in Matthew, Joseph experiences a similar invitation. "Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you," an angel tells him in a dream.  No sense of where they'll stay when they get there, or what they might encounter, or jeez, how long they'll be gone.  Just, Go.

As much as we might not relate to the idea of a friend or partner saying, let's just hop in the camper and drive cross the country 'cuz it's there, I think we all undertake journeys like this.  A new school; a new job (or a first job, for that matter); a new neighborhood; a new leader or boss; a new war; a new child; a new diagnosis for oneself or someone else -- it's always a leap into the unknown, not all that far removed really from that first day we went to school, our parents or guardians having let us go (and then bawling or worrying for an hour).

Maybe for some of us it gets easier.  I tend to think it's more often the case that we find ways of hiding from the fear and the uncertainty roiling around in ourselves.

And yet... and yet... that dependence, that's the natural order of things.  No matter how stable our lives are, it only takes one surprise to realize it's all just a facade.  A heavily reinforced one, no doubt, but still.

And maybe there's whole other sorts of blessing to be had in acknowledging the reality of our situation,  and our discomfort.  Maybe that truth can indeed set us free.

The Holy Family rests on the journey.